KAILUA, HAWAII – It’s been three years since a small group of citizens saved the Kailua 4th of July Fireworks, an event that has been a mainstay in the Kailua community for more than 60 years . In 2008, three Kailua residents realized in June, four weeks before the event, that the Kailua Chamber of Commerce was no longer coordinating details for this event and the 4th of July fireworks were not going to take place.
More than $50,000 was raised in 4 weeks and permits obtained. Each year since, the event has made its fundraising goals with the help of Chuck Cotton and Clear Channel, small businesses and organizations, and the residents of Kailua.
The Kailua Chamber of Commerce puts on the annual 4th of July Parade and up until 2008 had coordinated the 4th of July Fireworks show as well.
Gramann explains that in year two there was no longer the imminent threat that the fireworks would not happen so people again assume the show will go on. “Luckily we’ve been able to count on last minute one time large donations at the last minute from companies like Sunetric last year, Hardware Hawaii, The Star Advertiser and Target the previous year and Long Stay Vacations the first year,“ Gramann says.
These donations along with contributions from mainstay sponsors including Clear Channel Communication’s matching radio trade, Castle Medical Center, Foodland and other Kailua businesses have enabled the show to go on.
“It had been our hope that an event of this caliber and long-standing tradition would eventually be supported in whole by one of the larger businesses coming into Kailua town. Target or Whole Foods and possibly Kaneohe Ranch are three viable sponsors we’d hope would become key sponsors,” says Brook Gramann, Kailua resident helping out with the effort. “The 4th of July Fireworks celebration is a stellar community event, a terrific sponsorship opportunity for any company or organization. We’ve asked over the years, but have not had any success partnering with a large sponsor to own the event.
“All of us who have worked the event the last three years are owners of small businesses and can no longer manage and coordinate the many facets of the 4th of July Fireworks, “ Gramann continues. “It is a significant job coordinating, fundraising, promoting and running the event over a 3-4 month period. Donations have been steady over the years but amounts donated have continued to decrease overall and it has become increasingly difficult to raise the amount of money needed to put on a quality show.”
Now that the economy is improving, we’re still hoping that Kailua’s larger merchants will be able to carve out money and time so that the Kailua Fireworks can move forward and possibly the Kailua Chamber can work with these companies so the show can go on,” Gramann says.
It’s tragic that the city cares so little for the 4th. Tons of cash to promote tourism, no money to celebrate the nation. Shameful.
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